When teaching shooting to under 12 players, it takes a lot of patience. It is impossible for a young player to always shoot with perfect form. They don’t have the coordination, strength or knowledge of all the details. You have to teach them a few details at a time and keep reminding them when they forget, by asking questions.

I usually don’t keep correcting them on every shot, only when I see them make the same mistakes 2-3 times in a row. The best thing is when a player corrects his own shot and/or knows why he missed, without me telling him.

Once they figure it out themselves, they won’t forget it anymore.

When I met Peter Lonergan (Australian skill development coach) I asked him what his focus points are when teaching shooting to young players. He said he teaches them “High & Soft”. He want his player to shoot with a high arc and a soft touch created by the wrist snap.

“Rather two wrist snaps, then no wrist snap at all”. 

When teaching shooting to young players, I will always work on 3 things. Form shooting, rhythm shooting and shooting games.

In the beginning of my practice I will start with form shooting, we layer and focus on a few details with different drills. Small things are key in becoming a great shooter. The small things create the big things!

  • One hand form shooting to learn to keep the ball stable on their hand
  • Shadow hand to learn to shoot without using their guide hand
  • Roll ups to move the ball close to the body and keep it up the shot-line

In rhythm shooting we will combine different rhythmic footwork/body movements for efficient power transfer into the shot. 

Shooting should be smooth, free flowing and rhythmical. You want to have good mechanics without being mechanical. Everything should be connected from feet to follow through – ’like a reverse waterfall’.

When playing shooting games or contested shooting, we notice that a lot of the kids will forget the form & rhythm shooting we practiced, because of all the other factors coming into play, like decision making, defense, time pressure, fatigue, …

Whenever they catch or pick up the ball, they need to bring it immediately into the shooting pocket/triple threat position with eyes locked on target and feet pointed to the rim.

I want them to try and shoot it high, soft and on balance with their follow through pointed to the rim.

The biggest problem with a lot of players is that they want to shoot from long range, even though they are not ready yet to shoot with a decent form. They need to see the bigger picture and trust the process.

“If you want to be a great shooter from 25feet, you better be a great shooter from 4feet first.”
– Steve Nash

My main focus point when teaching young players is:

  1. make every game as fun as possible
  2. have them see the ball go through the hoop